Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Widening Gyre by C.J. Sutton. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.
Born in the San Francisco bay area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy from Asimov to Zelazny, as well as endless terrible SF TV shows he still has a slightly embarrassed fondness for.
Faced with the choice between moving back in with his parents and continuing school, or paying his rent, he took “a year” off from college. He spent time as a court process server, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker, and a data entry tech, before finding himself in a management role. A decade later, burnt out from his job in political research and facing 30, he decided he’d had enough and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento.
In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher, a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had.
In 2013, he attended the 17th Viable Paradise Science Fiction Writing Workshop. The experience of having his story critiqued by other writers, some of them professionals he’d been reading for years, helped him realize he could write professionally, and introduced him to some of his best friends.
He currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays video games and tabletop RPGs (often with family), and reads.
About the book
Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. The Zhen gave the humans a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state. But it hasn’t been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution. For hundreds of years, human languages and history were outlawed subjects, as the Zhen tried to mold humans into their image. Earth and the cultures it nourished for millennia are forgotten, little more than legends.
One of the first humans to be allowed to serve in the Zhen military, Tajen Hunt became a war hero at the Battle of Elkari, the only human to be named an official Hero of the Empire. He was given command of a task force, and sent to do the Empire’s bidding in their war with the enigmatic Tabrans. But when he failed in a crucial mission, causing the deaths of millions of people, he resigned in disgrace and faded into life on the fringes as a lone independent pilot.
When Tajen discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother’s quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity. What they discover will shatter 800 years of peace in the Empire, and start a war that could be the end of the human race.
In this story the humans are the underdog. The rare species fighting for survival in a world run by aliens who eat raw and live meat. Shout out to the original V at this point, who loved to eat live rats and even hamsters.
Even in sci-fi there is room for sub-species to be discriminated against, treated as less than the superior race, and yet still used to stock up numbers in a war (aka bullet fodder). Tajen Hunt is a decorated war hero, the sole human carrier of the title Hero of the Empire. The fact he achieved this title by inadvertently causing the mass deaths of his own race, makes him a traitor to his own and deserving of an odd respect from the Zhen.
Tajen has to confront his feelings of guilt about his military career when a tragic event forces him to interact with his past and his immediate family. Easier said than done. He struggles to connect with his niece, in fact he struggles to connect emotionally to anyone.
He accidentally creates a team of determined truth seekers, who are willing to follow the scavenger hunt for information hidden by his brother. Not all of them believe the conspiracy theory and that the search will lead them to a planet surrounded my myths and tales of non-existence.
It’s a sci-fi space adventure with a ship full of rebels willing to defy a whole alien race to discover the truth about planet earth. What is so important the Zhen will go to any length to keep it secret, including killing those who are willing to dig deep to discover said secret.
I enjoyed the read. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.
Buy The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 14 Mar. 2019. Buy at !ndigo, Flame Tree Press, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powell’s, Waterstones or Book Depository.